Written by Arlenea Halyda, Content Writer Intern at Project Child Indonesia
Overthinking and insecurity: possibly two of the most common issues our generation faced.
If you ask a bunch of people what overthinking and insecurity means for them, the answers might differ. There are a wide range and various types of overthinking and insecurity that people experience—all are important, all are valid. I kept going back and forth trying to write what overthinking and insecurity feel like, at least for me. Yet I couldn’t find the words to describe it, despite having seen and felt these phenomena countless times.
So I’ll let Taylor Swift take the wheel, and present you with a quote she said during her 1989 World Tour back in 2015:
“Every day we go online, and we scroll through the highlight reel of other people’s awesome lives—but we don’t see the highlight reel of our awesome lives. All we see is the behind-the-scenes; we see every single moment from when we wake up. You see your doubts, you see your fears, you see your concerns. You’re the one inside your brain feeling all the anxiety and hearing the voices that are telling you you can’t be who you want to be, or you’re not who you want to be, or you want to be more like that other person over there. Let me tell you: people are mean to each other, but no voices are as mean as our own voices are to ourselves.”
Ms. Swift perfectly encapsulated the feeling of overthinking (seeing our doubts, fears, and concerns) which then turns into anxiety that creeps ever-so-slowly into our brain (we’re not or can’t be who we want to be, or we’d like to be someone else). She especially highlighted this phenomenon happening in this digital age where such information about people’s personal lives is exposed and transparent, thus making it easy for us to compare ourselves with other people.
But why is overthinking dangerous?
Overthinking might seem like a minuscule thing; an activity we don’t even realize we’re doing until we’re already deep in our thoughts. But that’s exactly where the danger lies—it’s something so normal that it’s easy to slip up and go past the ‘healthy’ boundary line.
If we make a habit out of it, we might just ‘accidentally’ let it rule over us, and our social and daily lives are threatened to be disrupted. Ashley Carroll, a Parkland Memorial Hospital psychologist, stated that ruminating on certain thoughts can snowball into bigger, more extreme negative thinking if we let it escalate.
Then, how does overthinking spiral into insecurity, exactly?
Insecurity, at its core, is the feeling of inadequacy within ourselves. It hinges on anxiety, be it about our personality, appearance, goals, relationship, and other things. While it can come from many places and factors, Dr. Lisa Firestone, a psychologist and author at PsychAlive, noted that insecurity might be created by something called “critical inner voice”: an internal dialogue formed out of painful life experiences that we unconsciously adopt and integrate within ourselves as we grow up. This “critical inner voice” might just be the seed from which our insecurities sprouted, and thinking about things over and over again could potentially trigger this inner voice.
However, while thinking of productive thoughts that stimulate self-awareness and growth, there are two distinguishing features of overthinking that differentiate it: overthinking wallows in the problem lets us dwell on external factors we have no control over, instead of actively trying to improve or solve problems within our capabilities.
Any of these sound familiar? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Here are three ways that might help you in dealing with overthinking and insecurity!
- Focus on Problem Solving
After letting yourself react emotionally to a situation, it might be good to ask yourself: is it something I can solve or change? If it is, then roll up your sleeves and go right ahead and make progress to solve it, one step at a time! If it’s not, then ask yourself another question: what can I learn from this? It’s okay to cry as much as you want, but lamenting things you can’t change might only do more harm than good!
- Mindfulness is Key
Mindfulness can help you with overthinking and insecurity, how cool is that? By being fully present and engaged at the present moment, you won’t be too overwhelmed by other factors, and you’re less likely to be caught up in your concerns or past mistakes! You can also be more grateful for yourself, and the person you are right now, instead of wishing to be someone or something else.
- Forgive Yourself
Forgiving yourself might be the kindest act of compassion you can do for yourself. It shows that you accept who you are, flaws and all, and might slowly eliminate your insecurities, little by little. And hey, making mistakes is totally okay (as long as you learn from it) and a very human thing to do! Forgive yourself for the things you do, and forgive yourself for the things you didn’t do. Just like everyone else, you deserve compassion and forgiveness.
Stopping your overthinking tendencies and making peace with your insecurity take lots of effort and willpower. It’s even almost guaranteed for you to stumble back into old habits every once in a while. But it’s okay! It doesn’t mean you’ve lost all your progress. It’s all part of the healing journey, so when you do fall and stumble, I hope you can grant yourself gentleness and kindness.
To end this article, I’d like to share another Taylor Swift quote that I often use as a reminder whenever I feel myself spiraling into negative thinking and insecurity. I hope her words can give you the same consolation as they gave me.
“When you have bad days that just don’t let up, I hope that you will look in the mirror and remind yourself of what you are and what you are not.
You are not somebody else’s opinion of you. You are not going nowhere, just because you’re not where you want to be yet. You are not damaged goods just because you’ve made mistakes in your life. You are your own definition of beautiful and worthwhile. You are a product of the lessons that you’ve learned. You are wiser, stronger, and smarter because you’ve made mistakes—not damaged.”
If you get rained on, if you walk through a bunch of storms, and life is constantly coming at you… That doesn’t make you damaged. It makes you clean.”
Hasan, S. (2019). How Overthinking Can Affect Mental And Physical Health. KERA News. Retrieved from https://www.keranews.org/health-science-tech/2019-07-12/how-overthinking-can-affect-mental-and-physical-health.
How to Overcome Insecurity: Why Am I So Insecure?. PsychAlive. Retrieved from https://www.psychalive.org/how-to-overcome-insecurity/.
Morin, A. (2020). 10 Signs You’re Overthinking (And What To Do About It). Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2020/04/20/10-signs-youre-overthinking-and-what-to-do-about-it/?sh=339a7f602bb8.